PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship announced that four organ transplant recipients, two of which are Chester County natives, are the winners of its 2021-22 higher education scholarships.
The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship is funded through the Transplant Foundation, the charitable foundation which supports the mission of Gift of Life Donor Program. Each year, the scholarship program issues $2,500 awards to transplant recipients seeking higher education. The scholarship was created in memory of heart transplant recipient Jessica Beth Schwartz.
“These young organ transplant recipients have displayed incredible strength and determination throughout their entire lives. It is my pleasure to help give them the opportunity to pursue higher education,” said Jessie’s mother and scholarship co-founder, Janice Schwartz-Donahue. “I’m so grateful to have the chance to honor my daughter and her love of learning through this scholarship year after year.”
2021-2022 Scholarship Winners:
Allison Carcella – Glenmoore, PA
Allison’s health challenges began with an enlarged heart when she was just a few weeks old. She received a heart transplant at age 11 and has taken part in multiple research studies at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Her experience at CHOP inspired her to provide comfort for other pediatric patients by making cozy blankets for them.
As a student at Alvernia University, Allison wants to start an organ donation awareness club. Her major is English. “I look forward to helping young patients see a future for themselves in the stories I write,” she said.
Aiden Coyne – Oreland, PA
Aiden was diagnosed with a rare disorder at just 17 months old and received a liver transplant in 2011. “I went into the transplant a sick, tired and weak boy. I came out of the surgery strong, vibrant and eager to take on the world,” he said.
Aiden earned two medals as a runner with his high school’s varsity track and field relay team, learned to play guitar, speak German and helped organize a community 5K that raised money for the Histiocytosis Association, which is working to find a cure to the disease Aidan experienced. He is attending Widener University.
Natalie Mirage – Oxford, PA
Natalie received a kidney transplant in 2014 after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at age eight. Despite years of illness and bullying, she went on to letter in swimming and tennis, participate in band color guard and succeed academically in high school.
Natalie and her family have developed a strong relationship with her donor’s family. “Meeting them helped me appreciate the unselfish act of love they gave me even more,” she said. Natalie is attending West Chester University.
Luke Schrader – Abington, PA
Luke grew up healthy and active until, at age eight, he and his family were shocked to learn that he had Wilson’s Disease, a rare disorder that led to his need for a liver transplant. His gift of life has allowed him to achieve a soccer championship, play football and ice hockey, and excel academically. “I am back to being the athlete I was before my transplant,” he said. “I will forever be grateful to my donor and donor family for my transplant.”
Luke and his family have formed the “Luke’s Force” team that supports Gift of Life’s Donor Dash. They also donated sound machines that mask the noise of medical equipment in every patient room on the floor where Luke stayed at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Luke is studying sports management at DeSales University.
Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship
Just a few days after she was born, Jessica Beth Schwartz was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Her heart and body began to slow down by the age of 14. But thanks to someone who said yes to organ donation, Jessica was able to experience eight and a half additional years of life.
A total of 69 students have been awarded scholarships since the fund was created in 2003 in her honor totaling more than $150,000.
To be eligible for the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship, students must be an organ or tissue transplant recipient under the age of 25, seniors in high school, or be enrolled in a two or four-year college, university, trade or technical school.
To contribute to the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship Fund, or for more information on scholarship criteria, visit www.jessiesday.org.
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